Even small dogs that are mostly indoor, when they go outside and they just step in the urine that rats have dropped around and lick their paws, or if it goes in through a cut on their foot or something, they can get exposed to leptospirosis that way.
Today we're gonna talk about leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that dogs can pick up from being exposed to water that is infected with the leptospirokete, which is a bacterium. It's transmitted by the urine of wild animals. Included in the wild animals are rats. Everybody that lives in southern California has a population of rats either in their yard or very nearby. I would say most of us do unless you live in a high-rise. The problem is that these rats will urinate just about anywhere. Even small dogs that are mostly indoor, when they go outside and they just step in the urine that rats have dropped around and lick their paws, or if it goes in through a cut on their foot or something, they can get exposed to leptospirosis that way.
Also we know that just for dogs that are out hiking in streams and areas where wildlife are urinating, and are near the water, that's the other way that dogs can be exposed. What happens is you get exposed to this and within about three to five days the dogs are gonna be showing flu-like symptoms. They could be achy, sore, have fever, they can even show lamenesses. Just in general, they're not feeling well. Leptospirosis can cause kidney and liver failure pretty quickly. One of the scariest things about is that it's a zoonotic disease, so that humans can actually contract it from their pets, if you're exposed to the urine from your dog. Sounds kinda odd, but it actually can happen just by you cleaning up urine. If your dog starts to have kidney failure it'll urinate excessive amounts, and then that's when owners quite often will wind up being exposed to it.
We really do recommend that those dogs that are in high exposure situations be vaccinated for leptospirosis. It's a series of two vaccines, the first year at one, annual after that. There have unfortunate been an increase in incidents in our area. A lot of it we think is just due to the increases moisture from all the rain we've had. It seems like every time that happens, there is an increase is the number of cases of leptospirosis. It'd be a good thing to talk to one of our veterinarians about next time you're in.